There is a problem with our health care system in the United States. It started with a good idea. Individuals who ran the risk of being financially ruined in the event of a health emergency would pay an insurance company to take on this risk. The insurance company levels the risk of all its customers, makes a profit, and its customers avoid bankruptcy should they fall victim to cancer or something.

Then something bad happened. Employers started including health insurance as part of their benefits package. While well intentioned, this had the horrific consequence of decoupling the consumer from the health insurance product. They no longer wrote the cheques, they did not see their account balances drop from the insurance or the services provided. Compounding the calamity, companies began using increasingly comprehensive insurance plans to attract employees. It was no longer an insurance plan, the benefit had become health care. Suddenly there was a pile of what looks suspiciously like other-people’s-money to be spent on health needs.

This would not have been a bad thing, providing that people were scrupulous and not prone to laziness. This unfortunately not being the case, we now have an unmitigated catastrophe. People pay exorbitant fees for medical procedures that could have been gotten a few miles up the road for a fraction of the cost. Pharmacy chains base their advertisements not on the cost of their prescriptions, but how close they are to your home. After decoupling payment from the services provided, there is no more foreign and hateful concept than shopping around for a good value on a healthcare related expense. You work to “get your money’s worth” from your health care plan. It fits into our natural tendency towards parasitism.

So how do we get out of this mess? Particularly now that the Government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided to codify it into law. Make no mistake, that is what national health care is. It takes the mess off of the overwhelmed insurance companies’ hands in exchange for the incredible power and control it grants over the recipients. What do we do to wean ourselves from this toxic dependency without being bound to the gurney with velvet straps of government “compassion”?

Personally, I like the awesome Dave Ramsey‘s recommendation: the Health Savings Account. The idea behind it is pretty simple. You have a health insurance plan, one with a high deductible that you will only hit if you or a family member is seriously ill. The money you save on premiums, and any extra you might put in, goes into a tax advantaged savings account, kind of like a 401K or IRA. Money put into this account accumulates from year to year (unlike a flex plan), and you can use it to pay for any health related expense. The individual is incentivized to save for their health needs, look for good values, and encouraged to take better care of themselves. If the average person were to go this route, it would go a long way to solving the health care problem, and foster a goodly amount of personal competence and responsibility.

A parent who fails to raise a competent and independent individual has failed their child. The same holds true for a government of a free nation and its citizens.